When fifth grader Joseph Girard III approaches the foul line, he dribbles the basketball twice before spinning it to bounce on the floor. Then, he twirls the ball one last time and launches it toward the basket. It’s a routine he performs before every shot.
While his approach may seem elaborate, it works! Joseph, sponsored by Glens Falls, N.Y., Lodge No. 81, sank all 25 of his free throws for a perfect score at the 2012 Hoop Shoot National Finals in Springfield, Mass. His flawless performance earned him a national championship and the Getty Powell Award for the most baskets made among boys in all age divisions.
The Journey to Springfield
To prepare for the National Finals, Joseph arrived early to basketball practice and often stayed late to shoot free throws. It was this rigorous practice (and his lucky red gym shorts) that helped him keep his cool during contests.
“I wasn’t nervous at competitions because I felt like I was prepared and ready to shoot,” says Joseph. “My dad and I practiced every day.”
At the finals, an army of supporters accompanied Joseph, including his proud parents—Joseph and Arleen Girard—his grandparents, and a team of Elks supporters from the Glens Falls Lodge.
Lessons from the Court
Joseph’s favorite Hoop Shoot memories include traveling to new cities, competing in his hometown at the state contest, and spending time with his family.
But Joseph isn’t the only Girard with fond Hoop Shoot memories. His father, Joseph Girard Jr., can’t say enough about the Hoop Shoot’s influence on his family.
“The Hoop Shoot is much more than a free throw contest—it brings family together,” says Girard. “The time Joseph and I spent together in the gym was priceless.”
Joseph will never forget the lessons he learned throughout the Hoop Shoot.
“I have learned that good sportsmanship is the key and hard work pays off,” says Joseph. “It feels great to be a Getty Powell Award winner!”
Through the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Program, the Elks National Foundation teaches kids the value of hard work and good sportsmanship. In 2012-13, the ENF allocated $748,055 to fund this program. For more information on the Hoop Shoot, visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot.
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